Monday, January 30, 2012

Reason #5 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

My roommate just described our apartment as a concentration camp. "Because we just keep adding more and more people all the time."
I replied, "Yes. You're right. That's exactly what a concentration camp is: a place where people just keep getting added."
She just laughed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Overheard in the Office 8

"I tell my boyfriend all the time, 'If there's a zombie apocalypse, and you think it's funny to pretend you're a zombie, I will kill you. No hesitation.' I think I'd last a long time in a zombie apocalypse. I think about it all the time. Like, if I'm in class, I look at the person next to me and think, 'What if they suddenly turned into a zombie?' I'm so prepared."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shut Up.

So i was reading one of the blogs i follow (can't remember which one), and there was a picture of teeny tiny baby turtles next to a strawberry, to show scale. Those turtles were even smaller than the one pictured below, and were so cute that i did a Google image search for baby turtles, because i was in need of something to brighten my day. And because i was at work, so what else would i be doing? And all of that was a really long preamble to the happiest turtle in the world:

Now, if my dad ever reads this, i'm sure he will tell me (again) that i am anthropomorphisizing; that i have no way of telling, based solely on this photo, how the turtle feels; that it may have been photoshopped, anyway.

And i will tell him (again) that just because his mouth is naturally shaped like that doesn't mean he's not happy.

Look at him. He's munching away on a strawberry three times the size of his head, and he is just so damn happy. When was the last time that anything made you that happy? Let alone something as basic as fresh fruit?

In the current fervor over the 99% and the Occupy Movement, we've all gotten our perspectives a little bent. Even most of the 99% in this country have it a thousand times better than most of the rest of the world. Middle-class Americans who don't happen to be billionaires have been dealt a shabby hand. But they are better off than middle-class people of many other nationalities. Even the legitimately poor and needy in this country (of whom there are certainly many) have access to supports and programs unavailable to the poor in many other parts of the world.

Stop whining about your lack of swimming pools and private jets and thank God that you even know that those things exist. Stop bitching about the price of bottled water and drink the tap water that most of the world can't trust not to kill them. Eat a damn strawberry and think about this turtle and know that, while things could certainly be better, they could just as easily be worse. You are lucky to be part of the 99% in this country. Don't ever forget that.

Monday, January 23, 2012


People have made a lot of jokes to John and i about who wears the pants in our relationship. It's an easy and popular question to ask, provoking an easy and obvious chuckle. When we first started dating, i told one of my friends that we'd found that things went a lot better when no one wears any pants at all.

Strange as it may seem, that joke is actually a perfect description of the power balance of our relationship. It's not that one of us wears the pants all the time. It's not that we take turns wearing the pants. We just refuse to put them on at all.

Sarah of Emerging Mummy describes her marriage as a slow dance:

"Sometimes the questions people ask or judgments they imply can make us chuckle, don't they, my darling?

Well, who is in charge here?

We are.

Yes, but if push comes to shove, who is the leader?

We are.

But then who is the spiritual head of your home?

Only Jesus."

Ours is not a relationship where one person holds the power. It is not a relationship where we both jockey for power. It is not a relationship where power is shared. It is a relationship where we don't consider power or control, where the question never even comes up. We stand together, move together, stop together. We aren't trying to get anywhere except closer. Our relationship is not an eighteen-wheeler on the highway in need of someone to steer it. It's a slow dance in an empty room.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Retreat, Day 4

These are two poems that i've been working on for a while. I spent some time on the retreat editing and polishing them.


this is the shape of things:
the trees are naked but for their coats
of ice, bordering the highway
like hand-carved crystal.

this is the shape of things:
hard and clear, the trees
tell me that maybe
i've already said goodbye.

this is the shape of things:
you are leaving,
i have already gone.

no atheists in foxholes

her brother, the agnostic, prays
over his food, asks for a blessing.
he sends out his requests
without naming names.
no longer certain that anyone hears, he nevertheless prays
over his food.

protestant to the backbone, she
lights candles anyway.
she thinks it can't hurt,
and it might help to see
keep burning. she waits and prays
far from his hospital bed.

sometimes the lines blur,
and what matters is faith.

Writing Retreat, Day 3

I am a terrible, terrible person. And so is C.

That's the only preface i will give to the following bits of dialogue, with accompanying commentary by myself and C, overheard at breakfast on day 3. T is a morbidly obese sophomore, and A, M, and J are her three male friends.

On Words:
T: "That was rhetorical!"
C: "Does she know what that word means?"
Me: "I think that, whenever she says something and doesn't get the reaction she was hoping for, she just covers by saying that it was a joke or rhetorical."

On Identity and Relationships:
T: "That's because I'm a different species. I'm more highly evolved than you."

T: "If you ever talked to a girl the way you're talking to me, she'd kill you."
A: " . . . you are a girl."
C: "No, she's a different species."
Me: "And a more highly evolved one, at that."

T (on being reprimanded for asking for the loan of a pocket knife to peel her orange, and being told that she should carry her own knife): "I don't want to be needy. I'll just be friends with boys who carry pocket knives."

A: "I don't know if I want to be friends with someone who just beats me up (verbally) all the time. If our whole relationship is about fighting, why are we even friends?"
T: "That's not what our whole relationship is about! And I don't beat you up!"
M: "Take the way you argue, and imagine that it was made physical. It would be a fistfight."
T: "No, because A wouldn't hit a girl."
Me: "I thought you weren't a girl?"

A: "You make me feel awful!"
T: "Yeah, that's the point."

A: "Okay, Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. So, I do not consent to you making me feel bad and beating me up verbally."
T: "You're the one who makes me feel bad!"
A: "Okay, what do I do? And why do you consent to it?"
T: "You just don't do the things I want you to."

T (to A): "I was adding that to why I want to beat you up: because I don't like the way you think."

T: "I'd have a better chance with pretty much all of the freshmen."
C: "A better chance of what? Dating them? Eating them?"
Me: "C! That is a terrible thing to say! T would never eat a freshman! She is a vegetarian!"

On Identity and Fetishes:
A: "Why did you smell that (orange peel)?"
T: "It's like a creepy fetish thing."

T: ". . . you'd go through my trash and sell it on eBay. That's a violation of my personal space."
A: "But J does it all the time!"
T: "Yeah, well, I'm used to it from him. I'm not used to it from you."

T (as J was pretending to pour syrup on her): "I do NOT look like a waffle. (to A) You're the waffle. I'm more like spaghetti."
A: "You don't look like spaghetti. You look more like a waffle."

On Power Animals:
T: "A might be a flamingo, because I feel like he gets confused very often."

T: "No. A triceratops is not a real animal."

T: "Maybe (the unicorns) are all in Atlantis and you just can't find them!"
J: "Atlantis is underwater."
T: "So? Maybe unicorns can breathe underwater!"
J, A, and M: "No, they can't."
T: "How do you know? Have you ever seen a unicorn breathing underwater? No, you haven't. So you can't prove that they can't."

T: "I'm an education major, so therefore I'm right."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sleight-of-Hand Salvation

Some Christians seem to feel that God is a carnival magician, hiding truth like a bean under a cup. The only way to win salvation is to correctly guess which cup hides the bean. But i think God is just happy that we're playing at all. God wants us to want Him, to chase after Him, to pursue the ultimate prize of a relationship with Him. We should care less about getting to Heaven some day than we do about drawing near to God today. When you stop caring about the prize and focus on the game, you'll find much more value in both.

My salvation is not contingent upon whether or not i guess the truth correctly. Nor is my salvation contingent upon how many of my friends guess the truth correctly. My salvation is contingent upon whether or not i love God and love others.

I'm sick of the either/or approach to Christianity. As if any of us have all the right answers. I think a lot of us probably have some right answers, but arguing about which people and which answers will get us nowhere. It's much better to listen to one another in love, pray earnestly, read the Bible, and decide in your own heart how to live your life.

There are times when we must hold one another accountable. But that is a personal accountability. One person going to another in love and having a conversation. You can't just tell them that they're wrong. Talk to them. See if, together, you can figure out where they strayed from the path. It may be that you'll discover that you're the one who is off track. Go to one another quietly and in love, and talk and pray together to grow closer to the truth. Don't be harsh or condemnatory. Don't assume that your spiritual discomfort on their behalf means that you are right. Be willing to listen. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to agree to disagree, understanding that your rightness or wrongness has no effect on your salvation.

It's not about guessing the right cup. It's about playing games with God. He just wants to hang out. And when our goal is growing closer to Him rather than finding the salvation bean, we end up accomplishing both of those ends. Christianity is a relationship, not a contest. According to Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct behavior: "There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted." Think of God in these terms: the affection is the entertainment. The point isn't that you're winning a giant stuffed teddy bear or seeing an amazing concert. The point is that you're spending time together. The other stuff is a nice bonus, and it's always better to experience something wonderful with someone you love. But the point should always be the someone, and not the something.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." -- Matthew 6:33 When all we care about is winning the game, we will likely lose, and even the winners will experience little or no pleasure in their victory. But when we focus on the joy of the game, not only are we more likely to win, but we want to keep playing even after it's all over. Which is good, because an eternity in Heaven is going to be a freaking long time, so we should be excited at the prospect of hanging out with the people there.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writing Retreat, Day 2

The scar on my left index finger was incurred during an unbelievable bout of stupidity. I had been painstakingly whittling something for weeks despite having no whittling talent or training and nothing but a Swiss army knife to work with.

But it was my latest obsession, and i took any and every opportunity to work on it.

One day, we were at a stoplight. I knew it was a long light, so i pulled out my tools. So engrossed was i in my work that i didn't see the light change. The old Ford Windstar minivan started moving with a lurch, and the knife blade slid smoothly into my finger.

I stared at it for a moment, watching the blood bubble up around the blade. It had gone in horizontally and lay under my skin. Then it clicked: i had a knife in my finger. And it hurt.

I don't remember what i said to my dad to alert him to the situation. I remember him yelling at me in a panic as he tried to find a place to pull over. Our first aid kit was empty. Dad found an old Sunday school paper to wrap my finger in until we got home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Writing Retreat, Day 1

C and I had decided to buy supplies for the weekend. We therefore stopped at a liquor store before hitting the road in earnest. She had to get cash first, so i entered the store alone.

I was planning to buy wine, so the display of wine glasses just inside the door caught my attention immediately. I haggled with myself for a minute.
"Look! Only $4.99 for four wine glasses! That's such a great deal!"
"But how will you fit them in your suitcase?"
"I'll make room somehow."
"But you have so many wine glasses at home. You don't really need any more."
"But those are all Pammer's. I'll need my own when i move out."
"That's true, but . . . "

I grabbed the glasses before i could say anything else to change my mind and i set off to pick out some wine. C came in and saw me holding the glasses. I explained my conflict and that i as trying to decide if it would be worthwhile to buy them.
"Bear in mind that i have, like, 47 wine glasses at home," i told her.
"It's not worth it," she said.

The wine glasses went back and I bought two bottles of wine for just under twelve dollars total. Don't judge me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Overheard in the Office 7

"Oh, Tyler's in the closet. By the way."


Lazarus is our mouse. My cat, Charlotte, has actually caught him several times. She chases him and plays with him like he's simply the world's best cat toy. I'm not sure she has realized yet that he is potential food. I have seen them chasing each other around the house like real-life Tom and Jerry. In fact, Charlotte does look a little like Tom.

Several times, i have heard Lazarus' frenzied squeaks as Charlotte's play gets a little rough. Yet not only does he always manage to somehow escape, but he keeps coming back. Hence the name.

We do not have an overly messy apartment, so there are not many places for him to hide. We do not leave lots of food out, so there is not anything for him to eat. And there is a large, fast, highly intelligent cat who loves to catch and torture him. Why does he keep coming back?

A few days ago, one of my roommates found Lazarus' body. Apparently, one of the cats was finally successful. Let's see if he shows up again in a few weeks.

Monday, January 9, 2012

first love

I once spent a year of my life in love with someone who called me "buddy". True fact.

"Jacob" was amazing. He was handsome, and kind, and funny. He was in the Army. He was smart, and passionate, and mature. He loved Jesus. He loved his family. He loved burgers. It couldn't have been more perfect.

I started spending time with Jacob after i broke up with "James" in my freshman year. We became friends instantly, and i fell in love with him in a matter of days. Jacob was a very practical, sheltered boy (he had been homeschooled) who didn't want to date while he was in college, as he was afraid girls would distract him. I didn't let that deter my dreams of marrying him, though. I was prepared to wait.

I still think that, if he hadn't transferred to a school in Virginia, we would have gotten together sooner or later. He liked me, he just didn't really know what to do about it. But he transferred, and we kept up a close correspondence for a whole semester. But near Christmas break, we drifted apart. At last, i accepted that it wasn't meant to be, and i let go just in time to make the mistake of giving Casey a chance.

Looking back, i'm glad we never got together. He wouldn't have liked me drinking and swearing, and i wouldn't have liked him being a bad speller and a homophobe. We're great as friends, but for anything more than that, it would have been a disaster.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reason #3 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

Sometimes, i get all dressed up for work and i look super hot. And then i come home to an empty house. And then i am tired, and i put on sweatpants and an old t-shirt. And then he comes by later and i'm not hot anymore.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

sketchy things i have done


Once, when i was really little (like 4 or 5), my family went camping. Our particular campsite was a little removed from the bathrooms, which were on the other side of a little creek. One day, i needed to go to the bathroom. No one else needed to, so i decided to go alone.

Have i mentioned that i have a really terrible sense of direction?

Several hours later, i was wandering on the OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMPGROUND, crying and alone, and with (i was little, okay?) dampened drawers. A lady in a car stopped and asked if she could help me. I got in her car, and she took me to the bathroom. When i got out, my mom was there.


When i decided to get my second tattoo, one of my downstairs neighbors recommended a friend of his. My roommates and i drove to a slightly ghetto neighborhood and met the guy at his house. He explained that, while he was fully licensed to tattoo, his parlor was temporarily closed for a board of health violation. Apparently, the piercing guy was under investigation for performing a procedure he was not licensed for. According to my roommate's friend, the piercing guy was fully licensed, but the bitch at the board of health had it in for them. So he took us into the back room of his house, where i laid on the couch to be tattooed.

Turned out fine, by the way.


When i was in Spain in 2007, i was invited to a "bacchanal". I was excited to see reenactments of Greek mythology, and was slightly disappointed to learn that, instead, it was just an insane party on the outskirts of town in an abandoned warehouse. (Man, i'm a nerd.) However, the warehouse was sort of decorated inside with fake grapevines, and i'm pretty sure Bacchus would have been thrilled to attend this shindig. I was going with two girls i had met the day before, the cousins of the woman i was staying with. They spoke very little English, and i spoke very little Spanish. Also, i couldn't remember their names. I think one of them was Laura? No, that was their friend.

We stopped on our way to buy two huge bottles of rum and two 2-liter bottles of Coke.

Throughout the evening, we drank all of what we had, bought some beers, and also shared whiskey and coke with strangers. My companions smoked some weed and offered it to me. (I declined.) Laura also did a few lines of coke in a van. She spent much of the rest of the evening (actually, by then it was early morning) asking me in broken English if i was mad at her for doing hard drugs.

At around 7:30 am, we got a cab back to their apartment and slept for a few hours.

Senior Week

When i was twelve, my cousin Lynne (thirteen at the time) was about to move to Utah. So our grandmother took us, along with Agelseb (12) and our friend Renee (13), to the beach. It was senior week, so the whole town was crowded with drunk and/or high teenagers hooking up on every available flat surface. Most of them were at least eighteen (or sixteen, with fake IDs), but several were older. And then there was us.

Our grandmother let us go out at night alone, as long as we didn't wander out of sight of the hotel. Lots of drunk/high boys tried to pick us up, but Agelseb's shrill declarations that we were twelve kept us (relatively) safe from harassment. We were just lucky that we didn't encounter anyone drunk and/or sketchy enough to risk jailbait.

Agelseb nearly gave our addresses and names to some guys with a video camera, though.


One time, i hooked up with a friend of mine while another friend slept on the floor next to the bed we were using. Yeah, that was gross.

Barnes and Noble

One time, my sister was visiting me at college. My boyfriend-at-the-time and i took her to B&N, because she and i both had Christmas gift cards to spend. Since none of us had a car, and the bus didn't go where we needed it to, we walked. About three and a half miles. In the dark. Next to and across three-lane highways. Without a map.

Redneck Roller Coaster

When i was seventeen, my friends Agelseb and "Fay" and i decided to have an adventure. The back roads are long and winding, and when you go around them fast it is VERY DANGEROUS. And really really fun.

But we were the good kids, so we always drove safely on those roads.

But Fay was about to start college, and i was about to go to Europe, and when i got back Agelseb and i would be starting college, and we figured that this was our last chance to do something young and reckless. In retrospect, we were wrong (but almost right, since we almost died). As i have since discovered, life is full of chances for dumb adventures.

We were driving far too fast around a bend when Fay lost control of the car. We were skidding toward someone's living room window when she yanked the wheel and sent us skidding toward the ditch and trees. Suddenly, we were safely on the road and the car was still. We still don't know how we survived. I still haven't told my parents.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Small Miracles

This week, i bought my first car. It was my dad's old one. John and I drove it up from Maryland to his parents' house in Massachusetts. We refueled in New Jersey, and then forgot to stop again. I then drove from John's house to my apartment. The fuel light came on a few miles from home. But since it was nearly midnight, i just went to bed.

The next day, i wanted to go get gas and groceries. That was unintentionally alliterative. Anyway, my car was parked on a hill and wouldn't start.

I called my dad. While he was trying to advise me, one of my neighbors approached my car. I had no idea who he was. He offered me help. When he couldn't start the car either, he and his wife gave me a ride to the gas station.

Jack and Lena offered me advice about living and driving in Quincy as we drove back and forth. After buying the gas, Jack put it in the car and tried to start it. The one gallon wasn't enough, so he took me back for another one.

This is the really awesome part. Jack is Arabic. All three of the gas stations near my apartment are owned by Arabs. The owner was willing to put gas in an unapproved container, something that carries a hefty fine if you are caught. But the guy did it without blinking an eye, because Jack asked him to.

When the car was finally running again, i went back to the has station and filled my tank. The total came to $27.49. I gave the guy thirty. He tried to give me change. I had to convince him to keep the tip. It wasn't nearly enough, but it was all the cash I had.

Sometimes people surprise you. Anyway, i have learned my lesson about refueling before bed, parking on hills, and letting people help me. My new year's resolution? Don't run out of gas again. And go the extra mile to help those in need. You know, pay it forward.

Happy 2012, everyone.

Reason #2 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

So that neither of us will be the only person in the house who turns off lights.